Thursday, April 22, 2010

Top Five Passion-killers

More of a 'bottom five', really - the factors that most discourage me from dating a Chinese girl.

I've been contemplating a post on this topic for ever such a long time, but have been wary of attempting one because of the sensitive nature of the topic: I don't want to appear unduly harsh, or to over-generalize, and I certainly don't want these remarks to sound racist. So, first, a few disclaimers.

I lack the exaggerated susceptibility that many 'Western' men seem to have - or rapidly develop when exposed to a 'target-rich environment' - for Asian ladies; but I am not completely averse: I count Japanese and American Chinese girls amongst my past loves, and I have been very, very interested in a few Chinese girls I've met here (although these were mostly girls from Taiwan or Hong Kong, and I think there's some significance in that; it's not so much the physical type that fails to attract me as the education level, mindset, and cultural awareness one typically finds amongst girls from the Chinese mainland).

So, if I over-generalize, please forgive me: I do so only for the sake of simplicity, or to try to achieve rhetorical or humorous effects. I know that there are many, many exceptions to the points I will make below. Indeed, a number of my (foreign male) friends have done very, very well for themselves with their Chinese wives/girlfriends. However, in just about every case, these are girls who have achieved an exceptionally high level of English and/or have worked or studied overseas for a considerable period and/or now work for a major foreign company. Most Chinese girls don't have that level of exposure to 'Western' culture and ways of thinking, and so - for me - tend to come up rather short in terms of being interesting or attractive personalities.

Here, then, are my.....

Top Five Turn-offs About Chinese Girls

5) Chinese girls don't drink
Really, many of them don't drink at all: they'll nurse a single drink - even if it's just a fruit juice or a tonic water - for the whole evening. I don't insist that everyone should drink alcohol, much less that they should drink as much as me; in fact, a girl who drinks heavily or tends to get drunk is severely unattractive. But a night out drinking is one of the cornerstones of socializing in 'Western' culture, and I need a girl who can understand that, tolerate it, and join in with it occasionally to at least a modest degree. If you only have one or two drinks all evening, and make them last for hours at a time.... well, that's just weird; you're not entering into the spirit of the gathering; and you're making everyone feel a little uncomfortable, giving the impression that you dislike or disapprove of the activity. (Of course, there is the further problem that most Chinese have little or no tolerance for alcohol; and Chinese girls who attempt to drink socially with foreign friends often get fally-down drunk on two or three bottles of Tsingtao or a single glass of red wine.)

4) Chinese girls don't eat
The small stature of the Chinese, I've discovered, is almost entirely attributable to diet rather than genetics. In the last generation, Chinese boys from well-to-do families have started to become both tall and big-boned, often dwarfing their parents who grew up in the hunger years of the '50s and '60s. On the subway each day I see many young lads well over six feet tall. I'd guess the average height of Chinese males - for the urban population, at least - must have surged by several inches in the last twenty years. There has been little or no corresponding increase in the size of the girls: it's still pretty uncommon to find a Chinese girl much taller than 5'2" or 5'3", and many are below 5'. Girls, I guess, aren't encouraged to eat, aren't fed as much as boys when they're growing up. And an unhealthy fixation with body image is one of the less worthwhile cultural influences to have intruded from abroad in the course of China's modernization. Chinese girls fret about their figure, fret about their weight, and don't like to eat very much. Food, in my book, is one of the greatest pleasures in life; and I want to go out with someone who can enjoy that pleasure with me without inhibition - not someone who'll order the smallest dish on the menu and then just pick at it. (And the unfortunate corollary here is that many Chinese girls have the figures of pre-teen boys - not a look that I find attractive!)

3) Chinese girls have, er, quirky aesthetic sensibilities
Well, I was trying to be tactful there. 'Immature' is probably more le mot juste. What is it with this Hello Kitty obsession? My ten-year-old niece has grown out of Hello Kitty! Chinese taste - particularly female Chinese taste - is in many areas, well, (depending on your mood) either "charmingly naive" or "irritatingly childish".

2) Chinese girls know jack-shit about music
Music is another of my great enthusiasms, and I want to be with someone I can share that enthusiasm with. Most Chinese, I've found, have a very, very limited knowledge of music (of any form; even Chinese music, come to that); even those involved in the rock music scene often have a strikingly limited familiarity with the roots of the music they're playing. What's worse, they often don't seem to have any curiosity to discover more - they're quite content with their narrow little repertoire (which, for most people outside the rock'n'roll community, is saccharine middle-of-the-road 'elevator music'-type stuff or mawkish Cantopop). I've said before that any Chinese girl I'd consider dating should at least know who Charlie Parker is. I don't insist that she should like him, but she ought to recognise the name. (I'm not such a big fan myself, don't know all that much of his music; but I recognise that he was a giant in his genre, a consummate musician who has been hugely influential on his peers and successors.) This is, alas, just a part of the wider problem that most Chinese are extremely ignorant of 'Western' culture and history - or of anything very much outside of China - and, worse, seem incurious to learn more. Sorry to be a bit of a 'cultural imperialist' here, but 'Western' culture - particularly Anglophone literary culture, the Judaeo-Christian ethical/religious tradition, and modern American pop culture - is the dominant world culture, massively influential in almost every country (including China - although the poverty of the education system here and a long tradition of xenophobia are slowing its ingress). And if you want to have friends - especially a boyfriend/husband - from a Western country, then you really need to be well-versed in this cultural background. You can't expect to get every little cultural reference, but you should hope to get some of the more common and obvious ones, and you should want to try to understand more. A relationship is going to fizzle if you meet your partner with blank incomprehension or withering lack of interest every single time he mentions a favourite film, book, musician, sports team, etc.
[I think most foreigners who live in China do go to some lengths to try to get know Chinese culture: some acquire quite a high level of proficiency in the spoken language; most will dabble in calligraphy or tea ceremony culture; many take an interest in contemporary Chinese cinema, literature or music, etc. I rarely see comparable efforts made to close the cultural divide in the other direction.]

And finally.... the biggest turn-off of all.....

1) Chinese girls are too single-mindedly focused on finding a foreign boyfriend
I know - a lot of guys don't mind this: they're flattered by the attention, grateful that life is so easy for them here. But I find it severely off-putting, for several reasons. It suggests that a girl has some kind of hang-up about her own culture and ethnicity, a deep-seated dissatisfaction, perhaps a self-loathing even, with regard to her identity - and that's not a healthy or attractive state of mind (just what exactly is so awful about Chinese men, and why are foreign men so wonderful by comparison??). It suggests that a girl is shallow and materialistic (is she just looking for a more affluent lifestyle, or the chance to escape overseas?). It can create the impression that a girl is too 'easy' ("Oooh, you're foreign! Let's go to bed!"). Worst of all, it suggests that the girl is fixated on arbitrary and pre-determined factors rather than approaching a possible relationship in an open-minded way, that she is interested only in external characteristics rather than the inner person, in what you are rather than who you are. This is not by any means a uniquely Chinese problem: I've known many Western women who set unreasonably restrictive criteria for themselves, insisting that they can only be interested in men of a certain height or age or social background, or only in men who have fair hair or a moustache or a Roman nose. When you emphasise such arbitrary external features you are ignoring the individual. I want someone to love me for who I am (faults and all!), not simply because I fit into some crude preconceived template of compatibility that might just as easily fit countless hundreds (or millions!) of other guys. I want a girl to be attracted to me by my qualities of personality, my tastes and prejudices, my intelligence and humour - not by extraneous features like my height or my accent or the colour of my eyes.... or my nationality. I get very rapidly ticked off with girls - of whatever ethnicity or nationality - telling me that I'm attractive just because I'm British, or that I'm handsome just because I don't look Chinese. This is not the way to a thinking man's heart, ladies.

So, if any Chinese girls should happen to read this.... please don't think I am being mean in my criticisms. I do not intend to be. I would like to think that these observations might be helpful. If you are attracted to foreign men, there's nothing wrong with that. But I would recommend you to think very carefully about why you are attracted to foreign men, to become more self-aware about that and better able to explain it. And if you are attracted to one particular foreign man, please try to analyse why you are attracted to him as a person - regardless of his nationality. And please, try to take a bit more of an interest in learning about 'Western' culture, and make a bit more of an effort to fit in with 'Western' ways of socializing. Good luck!!


Matthew said...

This list makes me feel lucky that I found my wife in China. She does occasionally drink, she loves to eat (and try new foods), hates Hello Kitty, and really wasn't interested in finding a foreign boyfriend when I met her. We don't share much in the way of music though.

Froog said...

I love the exceptions - the more to be treasured for being so comparatively rare.

Of course, I approached this as a 'Chinese' phenomenon, but in fact I encounter the same off-putting qualities in ladies of every nationality. It's just that, unfortunately, these things seem to be much more prevalent in China - at times, it seems, almost ubiquitous.

Froog said...

There is amongst foreigners here something of a stereotype of Chinese womanhood as being nothing but a mob of "passport hunters". I would like to think that that's an unfair over-generalization, but... stereotypes arise for a reason.

I first touched on this topic nearly two-and-a-half years ago, in the post that I linked to near the end here. I elaborated my feelings further in this long comment, where I lamented that:
"The real problem is that there are lots of Chinese girls who are extremely smart and savvy and worldly and independent, and would probably make great girlfriends - but it does become difficult to distinguish these from the vast majority of man-chasing airheads, and I've rather given up trying.

Also, I fear, even with these smarter ones, there is often a lack of self-awareness or self-analysis about why they're attracted to you - something that I find offputting. It does seem that it's often simply a fascination with 'the other', with racial difference. Nothing wrong with that per se - except that it's so generic, so undiscriminating. I want a girl to like me for a reason that's about me, not something that would apply equally well to 50,000 other guys in this city."

And I concluded:
"I am an overweight, balding, middle-aged man who drinks too much and has a sour sense of humour. If you want to wheedle your way into my affections, don't tell me how handsome I am. Don't tell me how glamorously foreign I look. Tell me you understand my jokes."

pinb said...

I'm a foreigner in Beijing who has a few Chinese women friends who prefer to date foreign men not for any other reason than: Chinese men generally treat their girlfriends like crap.

The boyfriend is often times more insecure about his girlfriend's appearance than she is. He will require her to diet even when she is underweight and tell her what she should and shouldn't wear.

She is not allowed out at night with other friends if the boyfriend is not around, yet the boy himself is allowed to hang out all night with his buddies drinking and going to various ge ting (KTV with lady "friends" you can hire).

These are just 2 examples, but the relationships that I've heard about are so one-sided and unhealthy I don't blame women for not wanting to date Chinese men.

Of course this is a generalization and not all Chinese men are like this, but many of them are still fairly sexist and it's enough to put me off them as well. (Well this... and the generalization that they have small penises and are lousy lovers!)

Froog said...

Well, I think you paint a rather extreme picture there, pinb. I've come across plenty of young Chinese professional women, married to or living with Chinese boyfriends, who still have an indepedent social life, for example.

The sorts of criticism you make I've heard most often from foreign women who've tried dating or marrying Chinese men. In my experience, Chinese women seldom complain that much about such behaviours, and don't generally invoke it as their rationale for regarding foreign men as 'superior'.

John said...

Before someone (probably a Chinese girl) leaps to the defence of Chinese girls everywhere by pointing out that in writing this article you've made a list of your own criteria, ;-) I'll explain why I think most Chinese girls look like children:
From talking to a few of them on QQ I've found that they stick to poor dietary plans based on formulas to calculate {what they deem to be} adequate body weights. These formula, some girls may claim are based on "ancient Chinese wisdom" are actually dated European models which have been refined and improved over the years. You can read more about this here- . Whatever the reason for these formulae becoming popular amongst Chinese females is they do seem to have become entrenched in their psyche. Actually, as you can read, the formulae are quoted on many poor diet websites so it's possible that information from these and other poor sources (the old formulae give dangerous figures for short people) have been spread around by word of mouth and never questioned or checked.
These adequate weight plans suitable only for children coupled with being raised on a mostly plant based diet (which I imagine makes you bored of eating rather than being healthy) I would think explains why they look as they do.
It's only the girls from richer families from certain parts of China (where girls are said to be particularly beautiful) that I would consider look normal for their ages because I expect they eat better and think more for themselves.

Froog said...

Interesting observation, John. You've obviously looked into the background to the misguided dieting more closely than me.

Many Chinese girls, I'm afraid, strike as painfully malnourished - both physically and culturally.